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30

Aug

The Château du Grand Jardin was a maison de plaisance attached to the seat at Joinville, Haute-Marne of Claude de Lorraine, duc de Guise, who built it between 1533 and 1546 as a grand pavilion designed for fêtes and entertainments.The Château d’en-bas (the “Lower Château”) as it was called at first, formed an annex to the medieval château fort overlooking Joinville, a stronghold of the House of Guise that was demolished at the French Revolution. In addition to its grand festive hall, which dominated the interior, were a suite of semi-private rooms to which the duke and duchess could withdraw with their most honored guests; they included a chamber preceded by its antechamber and a more private garde-robe within,but no bedrooms, as the seat of the Duke, the château de Joinville itself, was so near at hand. The Château du Grand Jardin functioned as a banqueting house on the grandest scale, a fit demonstration of the power and prestige of the head of the House of Guise.

Apparently the house was built as an appeasement gift from the Duke to his wife as an apology for his many extramarital affairs.

The site, partly in ruins, was purchased at the beginning of the 1980s by the conseil général of Haute-Marne. The building was restored, and the grand park created in the 19th century has been restored and replanted

26

Jul

Alcázar, Segovia

The Alcázar of Segovia, like many fortifications in Spain, started off as an Arab fort, but little of that structure remains. The first reference to this particular Alcázar was in 1120, around 32 years after the city of Segovia returned to Christian hands (during the time when Alfonso VI of León and Castile reconquered lands to the south of the Duero river down to Toledo and beyond). However, archaeological evidence suggests that the site of this Alcázar was once used in Roman times as a fortification.

The shape and form of the Alcázar was not known until the reign of King Alfonso VIII (1155–1214), however early documentation mentioned a wooden stockade fence. It can be concluded that prior to Alfonso VIII’s reign, it was no more than a wooden fort built over the old Roman foundations. Alfonso VIII and his wife, Eleanor of Plantagenet made this Alcázar their principal residence and much work was carried out to erect the beginnings of the stone fortification we see today.

The Alcázar, throughout the Middle Ages, remained one of the favorite residences of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile and a key fortress in the defense of the kingdom. It was during this period a majority of the current building was constructed and the palace was extended on a large scale by the monarchs of the Trastámara dynasty.

In 1258, parts of the Alcázar had to be rebuilt by King Alfonso X of Castile after a cave-in and soon after the Hall of Kings was built to house Parliament. However, the single largest contributor to the continuing construction of the Alcázar is King John II who built the ‘New Tower’ (John II tower as it is known today).

In 1474, the Alcázar played a major role in the rise of Queen Isabella I of Castile. On 12 December news of the King Henry IV’s death in Madrid reached Segovia and Isabella immediately took refuge within the walls of this Alcázar where she received the support of Andres Cabrera and Segovia’s council. She was crowned the next day as Queen of Castile and León.

The next major renovation at the Alcázar was conducted by King Philip II after his marriage to Anna of Austria. He added the sharp slate spires to reflect the castles of central Europe. In 1587, architect Francisco de Morar completed the main garden and the School of Honor areas of the castle.

The royal court eventually moved to Madrid and the Alcázar then served as a state prison for almost two centuries before King Charles III founded the Royal Artillery School in 1762. It served this function for almost a hundred years until March 6, 1862 where a fire badly damaged the roofs and framework.

12

Nov

Scotney Castle, Kent, England

Scotney Castle is an English country house with formal gardens south-east of Lamberhurst in the valley of the River Bewl in Kent, England. It belongs to the National Trust.

The gardens, which are a celebrated example of the Picturesque style, are open to the public. The central feature is the ruins of a medieval, moated manor house, Scotney Old Castle, which is on an island on a small lake. The lake is surrounded by sloping, wooded gardens with fine collections of rhododendrons, azaleas and kalmia for spring colour, summer wisteria and roses, and spectacular autumn colour.

At the top of the garden stands a house which was built to replace the Old Castle between 1835 and 1843. This is known as Scotney New Castle, or simply Scotney Castle, and was designed by Anthony Salvin. It is an early, and unusually restrained, example of Tudor Revival architectural style in 19th century Britain. Following the death of the resident, Mrs Betty Hussey, in 2006, this house was opened to the public for the first time on June 6, 2007.

The earliest record from 1137 gives the owner of the estate as Lambert de Scoteni. Roger Ashburnham is credited with building the castle c.1378-80.

Construction of the castle began as a roughly rectangular fortified house with towers in each corner. The original plan may never have been finished, and by 1558 it is likely only the southern tower remained. In 1580 the south wing was rebuilt in Elizabethan architecture style, and around 1630 the eastern range was rebuilt in three story Inigo Jones style. The Elizabethan wing remained a bailiff’s residence until 1905, but the eastern range was partly dismantled on the completion of the new house in 1843, leaving the ruin as a garden feature.

Catholic Recusant owner Thomas Darrell hid Jesuit Father Richard Blount, S.J. in the castle while he administered to Roman Catholics from 1591 to 1598. Catholicism was then illegal in England, and during the second raid by authorities to arrest the Father he fled over a wall into the moat and escaped.

The Darrell family owned the estate for some 350 years. In 1778 Edward Hussey bought the estate and his grandson, also Edward, built the ‘new’ Castle to the designs of Anthony Salvin, from sandstone quarried from the slope below. The hollow created was developed into a Quarry Garden and contains a 100 million year old impression of a dinosaur’s footprint.

On Christopher Hussey’s death in 1970 the estate was left to the National Trust.

Château de Meillant, dept. Cher, France

The château at Meillant is not a Loire Valley castle. It’s located in the old Berry province, not the Loire Valley. Meillant in the Cher River Valley about 150 km/90 miles upstream from Saint-Aignan.
The château was built in the early 1300s and in 1453 was acquired by Pierre of Amboise, a nobleman who was the lord of Chaumont-sur-Loire, near Blois. The original building was fortified, as medieval castles tended to be. Pierre’s son Charles 1er d’Amboise, who was at one time the governor of the Paris region, Champagne, and Burgundy, set out to renovate and “modernize” the Meillant château, but he died at the age of 51, before the work could be done. It was his son, Charles II d’Amboise, who finished the job in the late 1400s and early 1500s.

Castle Hernen, Gelderland, the Netherlands

Hernen Castle started out as a tower-house probably in the 14th century, because the Lords of Hernen were first mentioned in a document in 1247. This tower-house stood at the southeast corner of a rectangular bailey. The defence wall of the bailey was some 2,5 meters thick and had three corners towers beside the tower-house. This defence wall was equipped with crenellations, arrow loops, a wall walk on arches and a moat circling the castle.

With the passing of time the need arose for more room for servants, soldiers and new family members. Therefore several buildings were built against the inside of the defence wall of the bailey, thus reducing the size of the bailey. The arches supporting the wall walk however can still be seen in some of the rooms.
Hernen Castle has a covered wall walk which makes it unique in the Netherlands.

In 1682 the castle was auctioned and became the property of a Philip Hendrik van Steenhuys. Later the castle devolved to the families De Bethune and D’Ennetieres.  These families from the Southern Netherlands (present-day Belgium) weren’t very interested in their castle in Hernen and almost never visited it so they didn’t modernize the castle. This saved its medieval appearance although the moat at the eastern side of the castle was filled in.

The great tower-house however which formed the origin of Hernen Castle is now gone. It was still standing at the beginning of the 19th century, but when the first pictures of Hernen Castle were taken about 1890 it was gone. What happened to it is recorded nowhere. Probably it collapsed during a winter storm due to the fact that its late-medieval occupants had cut out the walls from the inside to gain space and so had weakened the walls of the structure.

In 1940 the “Friends of the Castles of Gelderland”-foundation received ownership of the castle. They restored the castle in the following years.

10

Nov

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex, England

Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century moated castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, with the permission of Richard II, ostensibly to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years’ War. Of quadrangular plan, Bodiam Castle has no keep, having its various chambers built around the outer defensive walls and inner courts. Its corners and entrance are marked by towers, and topped by crenellations. Its structure, details and situation in an artificial watery landscape indicate that display was an important aspect of the castle’s design as well as defence. It was the home of the Dalyngrigge family and the centre of the manor of Bodiam.

Possession of Bodiam Castle passed through several generations of Dalyngrigges, until their line became extinct, when the castle passed by marriage to the Lewknor family. During the Wars of the Roses, Sir Thomas Lewknor supported the House of Lancaster, and when Richard III of the House of York became king in 1483, a force was despatched to besiege Bodiam Castle. It is unrecorded whether the siege went ahead, but it is thought that Bodiam was surrendered without much resistance. The castle was confiscated, but returned to the Lewknors when Henry VII of the House of Lancaster became king in 1485. Descendants of the Lewknors owned the castle until at least the 16th century.

By the start of the English Civil War in 1641, Bodiam Castle was in the possession of John Tufton. He supported the Royalist cause, and sold the castle to help pay fines levied against him by Parliament. The castle was subsequently dismantled, and was left as a picturesque ruin until its purchase by John Fuller in 1829. Under his auspices, the castle was partially restored before being sold to George Cubitt, 1st Baron Ashcombe, and later to Lord Curzon, both of whom undertook further restoration work. The castle is protected as a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Monument. It has been owned by The National Trust since 1925, donated by Lord Curzon on his death, and is open to the public.

Château de Lavaux-Sainte-Anne, Ardennes region, Belgium

The Château de Lavaux-Sainte-Anne is located in Belgium near Rochefort, in the province of Namur, Wallonia. In 1450, Jean II de Berlo commissioned the building of the castle.

Heidelberg. Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

The Heidelberg Castle is a famous ruin in Germany and landmark of Heidelberg. The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps.

The castle has only been partially rebuilt since its demolition in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is located 80 metres (260 ft) up the northern part of the Königstuhl hillside, and thereby dominates the view of the old downtown. It is served by an intermediate station on the Heidelberger Bergbahn funicular railway that runs from Heidelberg’s Kornmarkt to the summit of the Königstuhl.

The earliest castle structure was built before AD 1214 and later expanded into 2 castles circa 1294; however, in 1537, a lightning-bolt destroyed the upper castle. The present structures had been expanded by 1650, before damage by later wars and fires. In 1764, another lightning-bolt destroyed some rebuilt sections.

Pernštejn Castle, South Moravia, Czech Republic

Pernštejn Castle (Czech: hrad Pernštejn) is a castle located on a rock above the village of Nedvědice and the rivers Svratka and Nedvědička, some 40 km northwest of Brno, in the South Moravian Region, Czech Republic. Pernštejn came to be known as the marble castle because of the marble-like stone used to frame the doors and windows.

It was founded by the Lords of Medlov probably between 1270-1285. The family branch seated at the castle and adopted the then fashionable name Pernštejn, which is the Czech version probably derived of the German name, Bärenstein - the “Bear Rock”. Its history is closely connected to the Lords of Pernštejn (Pernštejnové) and their descendants. It has kept its intact appearance in the Gothic and Renaissance form as it was finished in the first half of the 16th century by the Pernštejns, then the richest and most powerful lordly family of the Czech kingdom. Pernštejn is one of the best preserved castles in Czech Republic.

06

Nov

Karlštejn Castle, Czech Republic

Karlštejn Castle is a large Gothic castle founded 1348 AD by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia. The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia as well as the Bohemian/Czech coronation jewels, holy relics and other royal treasures. Located about 30 km southwest of Prague above the homonymic village, it is one of the most famous and most frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic.

Founded in 1348, the construction works were directed by the later Karlštejn burgrave Vitus of Bítov, but there are no records of the builder himself. Some historian speculate that Matthias of Arras may be credited with being the architect, but he had already died by 1352. It is likely that there was not a progressive and cunning architect, but a brilliant civil engineer who dextrously and with a necessary mathematical accuracy solved technically exigent problems that issued from the emperor’s ideas and requests. Instead, Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV personally supervised the construction works and interior decoration. A little known fact is that the Emperor hired Palestinian labour for the remaining work. Construction was finished nearly twenty years later in 1365 when the “heart” of the treasury – the Chapel of the Holy Cross situated in the Great tower – was consecrated.

Following the outbreak of the Hussite Wars, the Imperial Regalia were evacuated in 1421 and brought via Hungary to Nuremberg. In 1422, during the siege of the castle, Hussite attackers used Biological warfare when Prince Sigismund Korybut used catapults to throw dead (but not plague-infected) bodies and 2000 carriage-loads of dung over the walls,[1] apparently managing to spread infection among the defenders. Later, the Bohemian coronation jewels were moved to the castle and were kept there for almost two centuries, with some short-time breaks.

The castle underwent several reconstructions: in late Gothic style after 1480, in Renaissance style in the last quarter of the 16th century. In 1487 the Big tower was damaged by fire and during the 16th century there were several adaptations. During the Thirty Years’ War in 1619, the coronation jewels and the archive were brought to Prague, and in 1620 the castle was turned over to Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor. After having been conquered in 1648 by Swedes, it fell in disrepair. Finally, a neo-Gothic reconstruction was carried out by Josef Mocker between 1887 and 1899, giving the castle its present look.